A Global Campaign to Put a Bench on Every Corner
We will soon be announcing the launch of a Global Campaign to Put a Bench on Every Corner. With the understanding and appreciation of this catalytic power that benches hold. As the first step of the campaign we want to plant these "seeds" of social life, it seems only right to re-post our article about the beloved bench round a tree at the Victual Market in Munich. It is a symbol of the power that something seemingly simple holds for life in a community.
This simple bench does a lot for a small part of a wonderful market. It creates a gathering place that connects businesses and people bringing them together.
The Munich Victuals Market in the heart of Munich is as much a city square as it is a market. As you look at the market as a whole, all the pieces come together to create one of the most dynamic year-round centers of any major city.
One of the many pieces that add up to make this market one of the best in Europe is a simple bench that helps to make a section of this special market work at even the most basic of needs, seating.
It's hard to believe that a tiny seed holds the potential to become a majestic tree supporting an ecosystem. But it does. The same is true of a bench. Something as simple as a few pieces of metal and a couple of planks holds the potential to be the hub of a thriving community, because of its power to bring people together and thus foster an ecosystem of social and commercial life.
This example at a Munich market is both. During the day it offers a convenient spot to sit (right), but when the market closes they remove this “bench” leaving behind a railing to protect the tree.
When the kiosk vendors come in the morning to re-open these two stalls (a juice bar and a soup stand), they attach two wooden “platforms” for sitting or leaning to the railing. It still looks pretty uninviting, BUT…it becomes a popular social space in a busy market.
At the juice bar, these two women sit down with their drinks, have a chat and watch the people go by.
On the soup side, people also gather to eat or just sit and talk. Notice the way the bench allows people to position themselves for a more comfortable conversation—a process known as triangulation.
So, what might have looked like an unlikely place to sit becomes a major amenity in the life of that part of a very large and important market. In our work we see special and very unique settings like this as the foundation of great places. This is Placemaking at its best, and it is often “right in front of our noses if we look.”
Other Market Posts
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